Need help understanding the process of hiring a chemist

Hi, everybody I have been following this form for a couple years now. I would like to hire a chemist on contract to help with the formulation of some products. I have done a lot of research and have played around with some of my own formulas, but nothing compares to the knowledge and experience that many of you have on this form. I realize that creating formulas and manufacturing my own products is an expensive and time consuming process, and I would like some advise with the process. I have tried private label products, and have looked into companies that will formulate and package products for you. I would much rather create my own.

-When hiring a chemist to make a formula what is included?

-I have done quite a bit of research on the ingredients I would like in the products. No it is not the "all natural" "organic" that everybody is after. I would like to use certain oils, waxes and surfactants.  This may make the job easier, or harder. If I wasn't picky about the ingredients I would of chose a private label company to buy from. 

-I would assume that stability,microbial testing, and impurity testing would be included. It would include an MSDS, CPSR to sell in Europe, and the paperwork to show that the product is safe for use in case somebody decides to sue the company. Would this include testing the product in the chosen type of plastic the container would be sold in. 

_Time from start to finish. I only know the basics of testing. The actual formulating I would assume would to take a few months. The testing I believe is a year?

-I need help on finding suppliers for the ingredients. The self life of the products vary and would need to find a supplier that does not sell products close to their expiration date. It is also important to make sure that the ingredients are of quality and are not contaminated. Also some ingredients like DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), and urea are more expensive and harder to find. I would assume that formulators have more experience and could offer
guidance on this issue. 

-Patent information. The ideas and the rough draft of the formulas I have are more simplistic. I do not believe interfere with any patents, but again I am not an expert and do not know what patents are out there.

-Ownership of formula. If I hire somebody to create a formula I want to own the formula. Is this a common practice? It seams that filling companies own the formula if they create it. 

_ The cost of service. I have heard $3,000 to formulate a product and up to $10,000 to copy a product. I don't want to get riped off, but at the same time I do value the work being done. A lot of the products I would like to create contain a lot of the same ingredients, and only require changing the percentages in the formula. I understand that the same amount of testing is required, but the formulation will be easier. For example different lotions with varying oil/wax percentages. Spray tan solution with different percentages of DHA. Cleansers with the same surfectants, but different consistencies. 

-Where to find a chemist. I feel a bit weird meeting somebody online and handing over a deposit. I would also like to work with someone and decide on the ingredients together. Where at the bigger companies I do not feel like this would be possible. I also need help with suppliers and bigger companies would not help with this. What has your experience been being a contract formulator or on the other end hiring a chemist. 

- I would like to start small and on one product. I need an eyelash extension cleanser if anybody here is interested. It would pretty much be a water down surfactant mixture with a preservative.

Thank you for anybody who is able to help me with some of these questions. I apologize that it is a long read.


  • Hello Katrina, 

    My name is Tania Robles, Freelance Formulations. I will be more than happy to answer your questions. 

    What is included in your product development service will depend on who you select as a formulator and should be discussed prior to signing a contract. It should also be listed in your service agreement. For instance, I would provide a client ownership of formulation (thats what they pay for) but also build in support services as needed. This may change on a client to client basis. 

    You should be able to provide a list of ingredients you definitely do want and definitely don't want, however, you will need to trust the guidance of your chemist to consult you on what will actually work or not work. 

    Testing fees are generally sold separately because each product, industry or client requires different type of testing. Your MSDS and C of A's are provided to you by the manufacturer when your product is manufactured. However, your chemist in product development should have a clear idea of who you are marketing to, including which countries you would like to sell in to be sure that the ingredients you're using aren't banned or unavailable. 

    Timelines for product development varies per formulator as well as per project. Our turnaround time is less than 1-2 months, however it just depends who you select. This is a question best answered by the formulation service you select. 

    Your suppliers are generally found in manufacturing and it is the manufacturers responsibility to make sure their raw material vendors are in compliance with their quality program. Some formulators will provide a list of preferred vendors along with your formula. However this will be something you should discuss with your formulator.

    Your restrictions on patented material is more of a concern on the raw material side of your project and not actually for your finished project. However, when using a patented raw ingredient, your chemist will get restrictions and availability information from their supplier. 

    When you hire someone to make your formula, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT THE CONTRACT STATES THAT YOU HAVE FULL OWNERSHIP OF THIS FORMULA, FULL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. Especially if you choose to go directly to a manufacturer or private label company. This is my biggest mission in life to educate small businesses, young businesses and entrepreneurs on the importance and benefits of formulation ownership. 

    3k-10k is reasonable depending the type of project it is. Color project are typically more expensive. Your standard performance (chemicals) projects are the least expensive from my experience. Eyelash cleanser will probably be on somewhere around the lower range, depending on what type of additional tests and/or services you may need. 

    I have an email for you that can help you find a chemist as well as other support services you may need., business development company, great company I used them with several of my clients. Hope this response helped! Have a great day. 
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